I once was faced with a dilemma about personal mobility. This was years before “carmaggedon” became a reality. While general traffic condition was still quite tolerable, public transport had already began its downward spiral and getting a ride during rush hour was nearly impossible. Like most yuppies (is this term still being used?) starting a career in the corporate world, my options were limited by a modest income. Naturally, getting a motorcycle was the most sensible solution. It was a no brainer. The tough choice someone in my position had to make was which among the numerous options in the market should I buy.
Even with a tight budget, I still had plenty to choose from. So I decided I’d go with popularity. Which wass best selling commuter bike at the time? Again, a no brainer, it’s the Honda XRM 125 DS. That was more than a decade ago. Now, with the introduction of its fuel-injected version, the XRM is still one of the best selling motorcycles in the market today.
Honda practically retained every feature that made the XRM a phenominal success but not without some minor improvements. The all-new XRM 125 Fi DS takes its design cues from the CRF250 Rally. The red bench-type seat is not only more comfortable but is also eye-catching. While the XRM has always been intended for regular daily commute, Honda gave much consideration to our varying road conditions more especially in the rural areas. The front fork and dual rear shock absorbers did a much better job in handling potholes and it even made light work of some minor off-roading. One might even say that the XRM is totally capable of taking on difficult trails. The 17-inch semi-knobby tires provides ample grip on both dirt and tarmac but I would suggest replacing them with tires that have more aggressive thread if you really plan to go off the beaten path regularly. Just be mindful of the 135 mm ground clearance.
Nevertheless, riding uphill on whether paved or unpaved surface won’t be much of a challenge for the modest but capable 124.89 cc air-cooled mill. It produces 7.09kw of power and 9.59nm of torque. On paper, it may seem around 1nm less than the XRM carburetor version but you don’t feel the difference during actual riding. If anything, the Honda’s PGM-Fi system made this latest XRM version smoother to ride without dimishing throttle response. Still fitted with a 4-speed, auto-clutch rotary transmission, the XRM 125 Fi is easy to operate. Press forward with your toe to upshift and press backward with you heel to downshift. There’s no need to bother with a clutch lever.
At just about a hundred kilograms, the XRM is quite nimble and the wide handle bar gives good leverage in switching directions. The down side is that it either end might collide with car side mirrors when lane splitting in congested traffic. Like most Underbone commuters, the this has a small underseat storage. It will not fit any type of helmet but you can still securely place other items like a pair of riding gloves or a light jacket along with one or two bottled water.
The XRM 125 Fi DS is priced at P66,500 and it also comes in two other variants: the XRM DSX (P69,900) and XRM Motard (P71,800).